The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

of thinking through years, the 'grasp' or the known'

- - -

well, i wrote that in 1974, many years ago. well, that was 43
years ago to be exact.

well, it was almost half a century ago. a lot of things happen
in half a century. well, it feels a lot closer than that, just
yesterday or even today, today in the late morning or around
noon. on the other side of noon perhaps.

well, that's what happens. that's always what happens. and it
gives you pause.

it gives anyone pause.

it gives pause because it's that way, and you know implicitly,
that the interval will grow every day. well, it will keep on
growing, day after day.

other things will intervene. other things will come along, it
will become part of the usual course of history. well, by that i
mean that things recede, no matter what, that people die, new
people, new events, occur. it's always like that.

well, as you grow older, you get to see this happen, history
growing, everything forgotten, no matter what it is. and a half
century seems an inconceivable amount of time. there aren't even
that many century, it just seems to be overloaded, all of that.

then you move away from these things, don't you. you move away
because, well, it doesn't make sense to hold onto things, not
under these conditions. so you move away. well, that's not
entirely true, what is true is that you're moved away, you have
no choice in the matter. you're a witness to the moving.

well, there's no one you can talk to about this. that's true,
it's cone constantly narrowing, separating from all the others.
well, by death and experience. yes, and by enumeration as well,
these things which come along, pass by. we mourn people and
events no one else has ever heard of, no one else has been
there, not now, not ever.

well, this is the condition of the world, isn't it. or the
condition of the world as we know it, these passings which are
forms of universal decathecting, detaching, letting-go. well,
all of that happens of its own accord, we have no say in the
matter, then we'll be gone, soon, and we'll be part of this.
well we want our names at the very least to be there, at least
for a little while, on our passing.

and our things, the care we've taken or not taken with our
things, we want those to survive, to breathe just a little while
longer, isn't that the case.

well, i suppose it's the case, something else we have no control
over, something else that's already evaded us in a perverse form
of the future anterior, we can't grasp that.

we can't grasp anything, can we. or we can grasp things, just
for a short while, the shortest while, and the noise is always
there, always moving, the incredible granularity of the real,
and a kind of dust or sinter, we're there within it, there's no

it's as if there's a calling or a calling-forth that we must
answer, that's an imperative, that leaves us choiceless, not
even the semblance of a choice. and that goes all the way back,
i close my eyes, clothe my eyes, and already there are
recessions, lapses, gaps in everything all the way back, 1974 or
the subduction of 1974 or any other year, the grasping too is
absorbed, vanquished, well, not vanquished, that movement
though, always continuing, even the vanquishing becomes a
whisper, a collocation of particles already separating, the buzz
of gravitational waves, dark matter, neutrino transformations,
anything we might name now, giving a name to something just as
the names are already disappearing, already the uncanniness of
unaccountable vanishings, and, well, that's one way to look at
it, and ways, and lookings, disappearing as well, soon almost a
century, corrosions of databases, sparks across any conceivable
form of storage, all those useless protocols. well, just think,
though, for the moment. that moment has already fled, what we're
part of is completely determined, not by anything, not even by
blind or mute mechanisms, not by automata or control, not by the
dreams of eternal life or wars spanning galaxies, or federations
across globular clusters, none of that. well, then it's
universal momentum, it happens, there's nothing outside of this

well, that's exactly it, there's nothing outside of it, nothing
inside of it, it doesn't matter where we're staying if we're
staying. well, or when for that matter.

well i remember, a few years back, neti neti, which i think of
as not this, not that, but now i think, momentum.

well, it doesn't matter what you think.

well, it doesn't matter at all, does it, it's always already
gone, this thought or that, this place or that, a splinter or
fold in a piece of paper, the suspension of a vase by a spring,
a sprig carried by a stranger, someone we have always known.

well, we have always known this, haven't we. we have always

this is the 'grasp' or the 'known.'

- - -



well, sometimes you walk about outside and it looks the same and
different and you wonder why you haven't noticed this or that
before, and 'outside' you think has nothing to do with you and
then you think, well, it has everything to do with you. this is
more of the 'grasp' and it has always been 'known' but now it's
known in a different way and you find yourself finding yourself
not so much here or there, but already fading, you hear the
sounds of your absence.

well, the sounds of everyone's absence, even your breathing has
gone somewhere else you think. well, you think you're thinking
or you don't notice what you have already known, your grasp
already weak like weak theory, your grasp like glass, flowing
elsewhere and not among your time. well, of course it is, but
you know you have to wait.

well, you have no time for that, the waiting, that is the
sinter. you have no time for anything.

- - -



well, from a manual of key buddhist terms, lotsawa kawa paltseg,
the two truths, a. conventional truth, which divides into 1)
correct conventional truth and 2) incorrect conventional truth,
and b. ultimate truth, and well now, the conventional becomes
trivial, doesn't it, as it splits into truths and half-truths,
falsities and rumors, innuendos and potentialities. and well
then, the ultimate truth doesn't split, does it, there's no
truth table here, there's nothing at all, you don't notice it,
do you, it's always already been thus, it might not be there at
all, it might be everywhere, it has no space, no time -

now, you're going into mysticism, nonsense, metaphysics here,
it's the last gasp, isn't it, it's the only thing you have time
for, we're all like that, at the end of our rope, the chair's
been kicked out from under us, we're in freefall, any nonsense
at the end of the day, this is the 'grasp' or the 'unknown,' the
retreat of the weakest, we're all alike, aren't we, or not at
all, it's the logic of the thought that vanishes -


- - -



well, a lot of things happen in half a century, they happen to
us, they happen to most of us, all that passion, grasping, goals
and outlines, all those plans and projects, endless lists and
dates, the most heartfelt occasions, biographies, memorials, the
unutterable -

well, there's no same old story, no story here, no end to it
all, only those beginnings, coagulations, no one remembers them,
our tiny worlds, our eyes, what our eyes see and saw, what we
thought they saw, well then, maybe they did, maybe they didn't,

well, no 'grasp' now, no 'known,' i wrote that in 2017

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